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How to survive being a first-time renter

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For most people, there eventually comes a time when you have to fly the nest and start a life of your own. But one of the hardest things is actually securing a rental property.

The first thing you need to do is find a place. The perfect place is complex formula: it needs to be affordable for your budget; in good condition to keep your livelihood intact; and close enough to public transport so that you can get to work, uni or a shopping centre with relative ease.

It’s important to stick it out and take your time looking for a place that suits you.

Don’t pick a place that you don’t like. It might be cheap as chips, but usually it’s cheap for a reason.

If you decide at the end of the lease that you hate your place, it could cost you a few hundred dollars in moving costs on top of any bond issues you may have.

Move twice in a year and that could be near $1000 wasted because you settled for the wrong property.

On the day of the property inspection, you should be presentable, and armed with questions.

Why did the previous tenants move out? Is there a laundry on the premises? Does the property have a phone line for internet connection? This could be your new home so it’s best to find out about any issues before you sign the lease.

When you’ve found your place, go straight to the application process.

Be prepared to apply for the property immediately after the inspection.

These days, the rental application process is almost completely online, so you can start an application before you even inspect the property. Applications generally require referees, so make sure you give advance notice to your employer, teacher or trusted friend before you apply.

If you get the option of choosing the length of your lease, always aim for six months. Who knows what could happen in that time – a house mate could leave, you could lose your job, or the house could end up being more work than you initially thought.

Make sure that everyone in your home is on the lease, that way everyone is accountable for rent and everyone is responsible for the property.

Moving can be an expensive time. If you’ve moved from another rental, you’re most likely waiting for your agent to pay your bond back, all the while having to fork out another $1000 or so for the new bond – not to mention the two weeks of upfront rent you’ll most likely have to pre-pay in order to hold the property in your name.

But apart from the holding fee, you do not have to pay any other fees to secure a property.

In NSW, you legally can’t be charged a bond of any more than four weeks rent, so make sure your real estate agent is doing the right thing.

There is no guarantee that you’ll get your bond back at the end of the lease, but the easiest way to minimise it is to be as thorough as possible when you’re filling out your condition report.

Don’t be afraid to go into detail when listing the flaws of your new home.

It’s also wise to take photos at the time the condition report is signed, so that you have proof if you’re asked to pay for damages that was present when you moved in.

Ask questions, don’t settle for anything less than you deserve, and don’t let anyone walk over the top of you – especially real estate agents. Congratulations, you’re officially a renter!

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